President Trump vowed to once again punish China with tariffs if he won re-election, claiming his strategy of heavily taxing Chinese products had forced Beijing to make trade concessions and helped American farmers.
“I’m going to use tariffs on China,” Mr. Trump said during an interview on Fox Business Network Thursday morning, saying that the strategy had helped bring “billions of dollars” into the United States.
“I gave all of the money to the farmers and we had tens of billions leftover which goes into the Treasury,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump pointed to record purchases of corn and soybeans that he said had been made “two weeks ago” as evidence that his aggressive approach toward China was working.
China did make a series of record corn purchases in July, and in August made a record purchase of beef. Some analysts have said that Chinese soybean purchases are likely to hit new highs this year. Those purchases are required by an initial trade deal that the United States and China signed in January, in which Beijing agreed to buy $200 billion of additional American products by the end of 2021.
“They want to keep me happy because they know that I’m a hair trigger when it comes to them. And I’m sick of them,” the president said.
The Trump administration has raised plenty of funds from its China tariffs — $64 billion since those duties went into effect in July 2018, according to government statistics. And the federal government has channeled much of that to American farmers, who were badly hit when China responded to Mr. Trump’s tariffs by placing its own levies on American pork, soybeans, corn and other products.
But economists say that most of those funds have actually been paid by American consumers and other businesses, not China, as the president insists.
Chinese purchases of American agricultural products have been trending sharply up in recent months. But American farmers also have a long way to go to recover from the damage they sustained in the trade war, and so far, the purchases still remain far behind the pace necessary for China to meet its commitment of purchasing $36.6 billion of American products this year. According to tracking by the Peterson Institute of International Economics, China’s imports of farm products covered by the trade deal totaled $11 billion through August, compared with a year-to-date target of $24.4 billion.